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The Cobalt Empire

“Because it’s a byproduct metal; ironically, we don’t look for cobalt,” says Murray Hitzman, former associate director of energy and minerals at the U.S. Geological Survey. Still, some companies are trying. Hitzman is an advisor to KoBold Metals, a Bill Gates-backed mineral exploration startup that’s prospecting with the help of artificial intelligence software that analyzes datasets. In July, the company announced it had acquired rights to explore 380 square miles near a nickel mine in Quebec to prove their approach.


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